Maryland Emigration and Immigration

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Overseas Immigration[edit | edit source]

Colonial Period[edit | edit source]

Most colonial ship records contain little information about the passengers. Generally the list of passengers was a partial list and included names of the most important men. Women and children were often not listed. Since the capitans were not required to give their records to anyone, they kept the records themselves, destroyed the records or did not keep any records.  Most of the records that survive have been published. The Immigration & Travel Records ($) collection found at is a great place to start immigration research. 

Headright grants were issued to persons responsible for importing settlers into the colony. The records have been made available for free online, courtesy, Maryland State Archives:

The original published volume Early Settlers of Maryland has also been digitized. It can be useful to refer to this book because Gibb's online database requires exact spelling searches, while in the book, it is easy to browse for alternative spellings of surnames:

  • Skordas, Gust. The Early Settlers of Maryland: An Index to Names of Immigrants Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633 - 1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland. 1968; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1974.

Robert W. Barnes has come up with some very clever ways to trace the overseas origins of Colonial Marylanders. His publications include:

  • British Roots of Maryland Families. 2 vols. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999-2002. FHL book 975.2 D2ba v. 1 - v. 2.
  • Colonial Families of Maryland: Bound and Determined to Succeed. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007. FHL book 975.2 D2br.
  • Missing Relatives and Lost Friends. Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield, 2008. FHL book 973 B38b.

Murphy's research guide to tracing the English origins of Colonial Maryland indentured servants is available online: "Origins of Colonial Chesapeake Indentured Servants: American and English Sources," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 93, No. 1 (Mar. 2005):5-24.

The English port of Whitehaven, in northwest England, had extensive trade dealings with Maryland and Virginia during the colonial period. For an excellent study of this trade and the families involved, see:

  • Lawrence-Dow, Elizabeth and Daniel Hay. Whitehaven to Washington. Copeland, England, 1974. FHL Book 975 H2d.

Scholarly articles published in The American Genealogist and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly illustrate strategies that will help Americans trace their colonial Maryland immigrant origins.

British Immigrants[edit | edit source]

White settlers in colonial Maryland were primarily from the British Isles. In 1660 many English immigrants began settling the Eastern Shore (east of Chesapeake Bay) in what is now Wicomico County. Nearly all British immigrants to colonial Maryland came either as servants or convicts. Maryland received more indentured servants than any other colony.

In Maryland, it was popular to name tracts of land. English colonists often named their tract after their place of origin in the old country. This was a common practice up through the mid 1700s.[1]

The earlier colonists settled along Maryland's rivers and bays, as these were the primary routes of transportation. By about 1740, English, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish immigrants began moving into the Appalachian section of western Maryland.

Sometimes records in the English Court of Chancery help Americans learn about their British origins, for an example, see:

From 1611 to 1776, more than 50,000 English and Irish felons were sentenced to deportation to American colonies over the centuries. These include Irishmen who rebelled against Cromwell's army in 1649. The 1755 Census of Maryland reveals the distribution of transported convicts across the colony. The highest concentrations of transported felons were in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Charles, and Queen Anne's counties:[2]

Distribution of Convicts in Maryland (1755)[2]
County Male convicts (taxable; sixteen years of age) Female convicts (not taxable) Boy convicts (under age 16) Girl convicts (under age 16) Total
Baltimore 472 87 6 6 571
Ann Arundell 184 51 16 0 251
Calvert 0 0 0 0 0
Prince George 73 27 1 0 101
Frederick 94 32 9 1 136
Charles 205 78 16 7 306
St. Mary's 29 13 5 3 50
Worcester 1 1 0 0 2
Somerset 1 0 0 0 1
Dorset 7 0 0 2 9
Talbot 25 4 0 0 29
Queen Anne's 287 73 9 0 369
Kent 82 12 4 1 99
Cecil 47 8 1 1 57
Total 1509 386 67 21 1983

British Naval Office Shipping Lists, 1678-1825, have been digitized by British Online Archives (site requires subscription). Names of passengers are not included.

German Immigrants[edit | edit source]

The largest group of non-British persons in the colonial period were Rhineland Germans who were encouraged by Maryland officials to settle in the rich farm lands of western Maryland in the 1730s and 1740s. Many of these Germans came through Philadelphia. A few Dutch, Swedish, Huguenot, and Acadian refugee families also came to the colony.

Many of the customs lists and indexes include the birthplace or city of last permanent residence of German immigrants. This is because most Germans who came to Baltimore left from the port of Bremen, and the lists of ships arriving from Bremen often give this information.

  • There is an ongoing project to index an estimated 700,000 Germans who arrived at various U.S. ports including Baltimore City.
  • Glazier, Ira A., and P. William Filby, eds. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1850-1897.. 67 Volumes. (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1988-.) FHL book 973 W2ger
  • Glazier, Ira A., ed. Germans to America - series II: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports in the 1840s. 7 vols. (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc., 2002 Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2004.)FHL book 973 W2ger Ser. 2
  • Princeton published a history on this group of German settlers:
African Slaves[edit | edit source]

Slave labor was introduced in the early decades of the seventeenth century when slaves from Barbados were imported to labor in the tobacco fields of southern Maryland. Vast numbers of Blacks were later shipped directly from Africa to the Chesapeake. Some of these Blacks obtained their freedom. By 1800, Maryland had the largest free Black population in the United States.

Colonial Ships[edit | edit source]

Though they do not include names of passengers, records kept by the Colonial Office and stored at The National Archives (Kew, England), document ships' arrivals and departures from Maryland ports between 1689 and 1754. FamilySearch microfilmed these records. They are useful for learning about the history of ships entering the colony:

Lloyd's Register of Shipping identifies ships leaving England, their masters, ports of departure, and destinations. They survive as early as 1764 and are being put online at Lloyd's Register of Ships Online - free.

Ships mentioned in the Maryland Gazette between 1727 and 1761 have been identified in:

  • Green, Karen Mauer. The Maryland Gazette, 1727-1761: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts. (Galveston, Texas: Frontier, 1989.) FHL Book 975.2 D2g.

Peter Wilson Coldham compiled a list of convict ships travelling between English and Maryland ports during the eighteenth century. See appendix to:

Dr. Marianne S. Wokeck created a detailed list of "German Immigrant Voyages, 1683-1775" to Colonial America. Destinations include Maryland (1750s). She published the list in an Appendix to:

  • Wokeck, Marianne S. Trade in Strangers: The Beginnings of Mass Migration to North America. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. FHL book 970 W2w.

Information about ships can also be gleaned from colonial county court order books, headright grants, and English State Papers Colonial, American and West Indies.

Many ships that sailed from Bristol, England to Maryland are described in: Bristol, Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Slave Trade to America 1698-1807 (4 vols.) FHL British Books 942.41/B2 B4b v. 38-39, 42, 47. All four volumes are available for free online at the Bristol Record Society website.

If you believe your ancestor's ship was shipwrecked, Shomette compiled a "Chronological Index to Documented Vessel Losses in the Chesapeake Tidewater (1608-1978)" as an appendix to Shipwrecks on the Chesapeake (FHL Book 975 U3s) that can lead you to further information.[3]

Colonial Ports[edit | edit source]
Customs Districts[edit | edit source]
  • Chester District
  • North Potomac District
  • Patuxent District
  • Pocomoke District

1783 to 1948[edit | edit source]

Starting in 1820, the US federal government required capitans to turn in passenger lists.  The early lists usually named every passenger, but little else. 

Later lists might give:

- Name
- Age
- Marital status
- Occupation
- Country of origin
- Last permanent residence (country and town)
- Name and address of relative in country from whence alien came
- Destination (state and town)
- Name and address of a sponsor (usually a relative)
- Place of birth (country and town)
- Additional information

1949-1957[edit | edit source]

After 1957, few passenger lists were submitted to the government.  Alien records and naturalization records are more useful than the passenger lists and are easier to obtain.

Before Using Emigration/Immigration Records, Know This[edit | edit source]

Before using passenger lists, it is very helpful to know the following about the passenger:

•Name as used in the U.S. and in the "Old Country"
•Variations for spelling of the passenger's name
•Approximate age when arrived in the U.S.
•Approximate year when arrived in the U.S.
•Relatives of the passenger
•People the passenger might have come with.

Ports for Immigrants to Maryland[edit | edit source]

The major port of entry into Maryland was Baltimore. Most Baltimore passenger lists are on microfilm at the National Archives, the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore City Archives, and the Family History Library.

  • Baltimore and Annapolis were the two major ports of arrival for convicts transported to the American colonies from England.[4]
  • Some immigrants arrived at Annapolis, Havre de Grace, Nottingham, and St. Mary's. The only known customs passenger lists for other Maryland ports are:

Baltimore Arrivals, 1820 to 1891[edit | edit source]

The following records can help you identify an ancestor who arrived in Baltimore City, Maryland between 1820 and 1891.

Passenger Lists

  • Passenger lists of vessels arriving at Baltimore, 1820-1948; quarterly abstracts of passenger lists of vessels arriving at Baltimore, 1820-1869. Customs passenger lists beginning in January 1820. Most early customs passenger lists were reportedly destroyed by a fire.
  • The Family History Library has the following records in one collection of 165 films FHL film 417383
  • Surviving U.S. Customs passenger lists from 1 January 1840 to 28 December 1891.
  • Baltimore City lists for 4 September 1833 to 13 June 1866 (with some gaps). During these years, ship masters were required to submit copies of their passenger lists to the mayor of Baltimore. These city lists partially replace the missing original lists.
  • Quarterly Abstracts for 1820-1869 with several gaps (see below).
  • Cargo manifests from 2 September 1820 to 30 March 1821 and 19 August 1832.

Indexes to customs passenger lists, 1820 to 1897

  • A soundex card index to the U.S. Customs passenger lists indexes the federal lists for 1820 to 1897. FHL films 417212-382
  • A separate soundex card index includes the individuals appearing in the city lists from 1833 to 1866 FHL films 821565-86 Both indexes have the same format and give all information found on the original lists except the name of the ship master and the port of embarkation.

Quarterly abstracts of Baltimore City passenger lists

  • FHL films 1376177-82 Beginning in 1820, U.S. Customs collectors were required to send quarterly copies of the customs lists to the U.S. Secretary of State who published transcripts for Congress.
Use the abstracts when the original list is missing. These quarterly abstracts or copies give the quarter-year of an individual's arrival and sometimes the port of embarkation. Passengers' given names are usually shortened to the initial letter, but otherwise the information is the same as that found in the original lists. The abstracts also have many gaps, and some years are missing. The Family History Library has the abstracts for the following years:
• January 1820 to December 1845
• July 1848 to September 1850
• March 1857 to June 1869

Indexes to the quarterly abstracts

  • 1820-1834. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1834: From Customs Passenger Lists, ed. by Bentley, Elizabeth P., and Michael H. Tepper. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982.) FHL book 975.26 W3p This also indexes the few city lists, cargo manifests, and state department transcripts for this period.
  • 1820-1874. United States. Bureau of Customs. A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports (Excluding New York) 1820-1874. (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1960.) FHL films 418161-348 This indexes the Baltimore City abstracts through June 1869 and the existing Annapolis and Havre de Grace lists (see the paragraph labelled "Other Ports").

FHL and NARA Microfilm Catalog Numbers 1820-1891[edit | edit source]

FHL and NARA Microfilm Catalog Numbers for Baltimore Passenger Lists 1820-1891 is arranged chronologically, showing the FHL film numbers and corresponding NARA film numbers.

Baltimore Arrivals, 1892-1952[edit | edit source]

The National Archives has the immigration passenger lists and indexes of Baltimore City since 1892. FamilySearch has the following:

• The National Archives also has four volumes of lists of passengers who died on board ship from 1867 to 1914.
  • Baltimore was served by the North German Lloyd shipping line from Bremen. If you know the name of the steamship that your ancestor arrived on, you can obtain the date of arrival for the years 1904 to 1926 from:
  • Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals. 1931. Reprint. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980.) FHL fiche 6046854; book 973 U3m 1980} 1931 edition

1870s and 1880s

In the 1870s and 1880s virtually all immigrants were of German origin. In the post-1880 wave of immigration, large numbers of Germans continued to come to Maryland. They were joined by Poles, Bohemians, Lithuanians, Greeks, Jews (from Germany, Poland, and Russia), Czechs, Italians, and the Irish.

Finding Histories of Ethnic Groups

Histories of ethnic groups are listed in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under MARYLAND - MINORITIES.

Westward Migrants[edit | edit source]

Migrations from Maryland began in the early years of the colony. Travelers generally followed the Cumberland Trail (Braddock Road) that led west to Pittsburgh and from there to the Ohio River. Many people also used the Great Trading Path, also called the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, that led southwest along the Allegheny Ridge into the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Some Marylanders from Prince George's County went to the Carolinas. A group of Catholics from St. Mary's County settled in Nelson County, Kentucky. By the 1820s some wealthy young Marylanders were moving slaves from their home farms to open plantations in Mississippi and surrounding areas.

Southerners fleeing the devastation of the Civil War and new immigrants from overseas helped to offset population losses. During the heavy period of immigration from 1830 through 1860, approximately half the immigrants were Germans, and a third were Irish. These immigrants tended to remain in the cities, especially Baltimore.

Free native-born Marylanders, alive in 1850, who had left the state, resettled as follows:

  • 65,000 in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri
  • 45,000 in Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Virginia and Delaware[5]

Henry C. Peden has published books on Marylanders who migrated to other parts of the country:

  • Marylanders to Carolina: Migration of Marylanders to North and South Carolina Prior to 1800. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1994. FHL Book 973 W2ped.
  • Marylanders to Kentucky, 1775-1825. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1991. FHL Book 976.9 W2p.
  • More Marylanders to Kentucky 1778-1828. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1997. FHL Book 976.9 W2pe.
  • Marylanders to Ohio and Indiana: Migrations Prior to 1835. Lewes, De.: Colonial Roots, 2006. FHL Book 975.2 D2phc.
  • More Marylanders to Ohio and Indiana: Migrations Prior to 1835. Lewes, De.: Colonial Roots, 2006. FHL Book 975.2 D2phc v. 2.
  • Marylanders to Tennessee, 1775-1835. Lewes, De.: Colonial Roots, 2004. FHL Book 973 W2pm.

Articles have been published about Marylanders in Delaware, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, see: Genealogical Sources in Periodicals at The Maryland State Archives.

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

For records of early immigrants to what is now the United States. see Early U.S. Immigrant Records.

The "Emigration and Immigration" page for the United States on the FamilySearch Research Wiki lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many references to people who settled in Maryland. Tracing Immigrant Origins introduces the principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor's hometown.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. John Frederick Dorman, "Review of Settlers of Maryland, 1731-1750," in The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1998):78.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "An Account of the Number of Souls in the Province of Maryland, in the Year 1755," The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 34 (1764):261.
  3. Donald G. Shomette, Shipwrecks on the Chesapeake: Maritime Disasters on Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries, 1608-1978 (Centreville, Md.: Tidewater Publishers, 1982), 242-287. FHL Book 975 U3s.
  4. Peter Wilson Coldham, British Emigrants in Bondage.
  5. These statistics do not account for the large number of Marylanders who had migrated and died before the year 1850. See: William O. Lynch, "The Westward Flow of Southern Colonists before 1861," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Aug. 1943):303-327. Digital version at JSTOR ($).